Title: Bickering Over Water Conservation Won't Solve the Worsening Problem
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002355/00001
 Material Information
Title: Bickering Over Water Conservation Won't Solve the Worsening Problem
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Tribune
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Bickering Over Water Conservation Won't Solve the Worsening Problem, 4/22/1993
General Note: Box 10, Folder 14 ( SF-Water Use Caution Areas-SWFWMD - 1993-1994 ), Item 70
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00002355
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text
. Ai I I I A 1 .1


-O$ks UA a


Bickering over water conservation

won't solve the worsening problem


The water giants are at it again. The South-
west Florida Water Management District,
which regulates water use, is nose-to-nose with
the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authori-
ty, which coordinates drinking water policy.
- The reason? The water district wants to
curtail pumping in south Hillsborough, Mana-
tee and northern Sarasota counties. This would
limit the amount of water withdrawn by both
public wellfields and farmers. West Coast,
which oversees water supply for St. Peters-
burg, Tampa and Hillsborough, Pinellas and-
Pasco counties, operates a south Hillsborough
wellfield. The restrictions also would affect a
Sarasota wellfield and Manatee County's re-.
serve facility.
The water district's proposal would allow
the South Hillsborough wellfield to pump at
most 19.9 million gallons of water a day, slight-
ly less than it does now. The restrictions, obvi-
ously, would prevent the expansion or addition
of wellfields.

* WEST COAST OFFICIALS say they
would have to resort to desalination and other
alternatives if the restrictions were adopted.
This is not a happy prospect for West Coast,
which questions whether the water district's
data are accurate.
-. Managing water supply is difficult and it's
understandable that West Coast, which will
soon review the district's research, is not eager
to eliminate available water sources.
" Nevertheless, the water crisis in south Hills-
borough, Manatee and Sarasota counties is
real. More delays in implementing rigorous
conservation measures will benefit no one.
SAlready, saltwater has crept up to a mile
inland and is moving eastward as much as one
fbot a day. Wells in the region are showing
high levels of chlorides, evidence of contami-
nation.
Hydrologists have known for years that a
water crisis was building. Nature shortchanges
the region. A confining layer of clay over the
aquifer prevents rainfall from readily recharg-
ing the underground water supply. Yet exten-
sive agricultural operations pump heavily and
industries and residential areas also make sub-
stantial water demands.


In 1989 the water district designated the
1,300-square-mile area as the Eastern Tampa
Bay Water Use Caution Area, and imposed spe-
cial water restrictions. That hasn't been
enough.
Last fall, the water district found that it had
granted permits for more than twice as much
water as can be pumped from the region with-
out increasing the rate of saltwater contamina-
tion.
So now the water district rightly wants to
take strong action. Everything is at the propos-
al stage, and the district has assigned a 40-
member advisory group to devise solutions. But
district officials make clear they plan to tight-
en the spigot
For instance, officials suggest that water
use per customer in the area be reduced from
139 gallons a day to 110 gallons a day, an
amount that is sufficient for most of the nation..
The district also wants growers to install water-
efficient irrigation systems and to base the
amount of water they are allowed to pump on
what they have historically used over the past
five years, another reasonable request.

REGULATORS DO NEED to keep in
mind that agriculture, which pumps about 70
percent of what is used in the area each day,
puts most of its water back on the ground,
where at least some of it is recaptured by the
aquifer. Allowances also should be made for
those occasional emergencies, such as during a
freeze, when growers need a lot of water in a
hurry.
The district could pursue the idea of trad-
able water-use credits, letting growers sell.
credits they don't need to other growers. This
would give landowners an economic incentive
to conserve water and preserve land that
might otherwise be used for crops or develop-
ment.
Through such innovations, coupled with pru-
dent sacrifice, the region's water crisis may be
surmountable. But one thing is clear. Bickering
over data will not replenish the aquifer or stop
the spread of saltwater. Strong conservation
measures will. It's time that West Coast and the
water district worked together to implement
them.


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